Dear Citizens of Port Allen,
My name is John Summers, and I am announcing my candidacy for Chief of Police in the City of Port Allen in the November 3rd election. I am a Veteran of the United States Army, having served a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan during the war on terror and earning a purple heart for being wounded. Since I have become a civilian, I have become a board member of the Port Allen Volunteer Fire Department to serve the community in their times of need. I am vice-commander of Mckinley Bourg American Legion Post 160 and the Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 135. These organizations serve veterans by ensuring the care of veterans and their families while serving the community. After I got out of the Army, I settled in Port Allen with my wife, and we both enjoy this community. We would like to see the City prosper and would like to know the quality of life for all citizens of the City is the best that it can be.
As we all know, the Port Allen Police Department had turmoil that has ensued in the last few years, along with escalating tensions between the citizens and the police. Also, nationwide there have been events that have caused law enforcement not to be trusted by the public. By large this has prompted law enforcement to lose the ability to protect the citizens by maintaining public order and safety, enforce the law, and prevent, detect, and investigate criminal activities
I want to bring forth the ability of the police department to be trusted by this community. If the City has trust in its local law enforcement, it will enable us to all sleep easy at night, knowing that the police are there to deter crime and protect the citizens as much as possible. There was a time in the past where no one in this city had to buy alarm systems because they were worried their homes might be burglarized or that their vehicles would be broken into while they slept.
While never have been involved with civilian law enforcement, I think that I can bring the management skills I learned in the Army to turn the City Police Department around while increasing accountability to the citizens. One of my many roles in the Army was to manage soldiers, budgets, and equipment valued at two million dollars as a non-commissioned officer. I was responsible for the actions of my soldiers in combat and was ultimately responsible for the decisions I made and the actions that they took. While managing soldiers, I Ied the soldiers in working with the community through relations with the Afghani and Iraqi people. Another critical skill I managed was directing soldiers in the proper use of force with an emphasis on de-escalation techniques. Another significant responsibility I had was ensuring the reliable communications of the soldiers whose lives depended on that equipment.
The first area that I will work to improve is the overall working conditions and morale of the employees of the department. I will work to end the high turnover rate of the police department by ensuring that the officers have opportunities to receive the best training and equipment that the department can afford. I will ensure that key leadership positions within the police department are filled by qualified and experienced people that will be the foundation of the department and its officers. By doing so, I believe that the revolving door of the police department will be closed, and we will be able to retain the most qualified individuals to serve the community. A mission statement will be put in place directing the officers of the department that their mission is to serve the citizens of the City and that they are not above the law, but that they are the upholders of it.
Once the employee base stabilizes, I will work to ensure community involvement with the police department so that people don’t fear us but work with us. One of my critical aspects of building trust with the community in using community-oriented policing, where the officers get to know the people who live here. One of the tactics that I would like to utilize to gain trust is having the officers when possible, walk the streets and meet the people of the city face to face. Another facet of this approach will be community outreach programs such as coffee with cops events where the public can come to the police station to drink a cup of coffee with the police officers and meet the officers if they haven’t already met on the street. I will also work to ensure programs such as the Dare program and school resource officers are in the schools teaching kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Another thing I will ensure the accountability and transparency of the police department will be work to ensure that all of the police units will have dash cameras and GPS tracking capabilities. All officers will be required to record via body cameras all interactions with the public. In addition to this policy, I would like to have the type of body cameras that can be triggered by the drawing of weapons to ensure that critical events with encounters with citizens will be documented. The triggers for the body cameras will be for those instances where there situations that unfold rapidly to take the human factor out of making sure that the body camera is on. Having these body camera triggers will ensure that there will be no excuse for the events not being recorded. Also, I intend for all officers to be trained in de-escalation tactics so that the use of lethal force will genuinely be the last resort.
I will also ensure that the Police Department has detectives that are capable of being able to investigate major crimes that occur in the City adequately. I plan to build relationships with other agencies, such as the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police, so that in the instance that investigating a significant crime exceeds our expertise to ensure that there is a thorough and proper investigation through cooperation and coordination. I will also work to ensure that the family members of victims are aware of the actions taking place regarding the progress of investigations as much as possible, where it does not compromise the integrity of the criminal justice process.
When implementing these goals and objectives, I will reach out to other entities such as the Louisiana Chiefs of Police, The International Association of Police Chiefs, and the Department of Justice for best practices in policing. I will also strive to have a close working relationship with all parish, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
In closing, I look forward to the opportunity to be your police chief to serve this community. I also sincerely hope that I get to meet every one of you during this campaign to hear your concerns and suggestions to make the Port Allen City Police an agency that serves you to the best of its ability.